3D printers are building some pretty amazing stuff lately: working speakers, wooden furniture, prosthetic limbs, and even foods like pizza and pasta — but WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co. of Shanghai, China is thinking much, much bigger.
Instead of pumping out small plastic parts with a desktop-sized printer, these guys print out prefabricated living structures out of concrete using a massive, building-sized 3D printing machine.
Now, to be sure, 3D printing houses isn’t a particularly new thing. Companies have embraced the idea of additive manufacturing since before the term “3D printing” had even entered the popular vernacular. For this reason, it’s not the houses that WinSun creates that are impressive — it’s the blistering pace at which it creates them. Running at full speed, the company’s printer is capable of producing up to ten 650 sq. foot homes in just 24 hours.
Measuring in at roughly 105 feet long, 33 feet wide, and 21 feet tall, this hulking 3D printer works almost exactly like a normal one — just on a much larger scale. It pumps a special type of pre-mixed concrete through a nozzle and onto a flat substrate in a pattern designed to give the finished house as much structural integrity as possible. Layer by layer, the house’s walls are built, and once the concrete dries, the house is outfitted with doors, windows, and a shingled roof.
The best part is that, since the concrete is made from recycled materials, and the printer eliminates the need for paid construction workers, these houses are extremely cheap to produce. When it’s all said and done, each 650 sq. foot home only costs about $4,800 to produce — which is why they’re being considered as a housing solution to China’s growing poor population.